Finally decided the Nikon D500 was the right move

In my May 7, 2016 post, “Nikon D7200/D750 owner can’t click the buy D500 button…so far,” I laid out the reasons for my hesitation in upgrading my D7200 to the new D500. Basically, I felt that my D7200 was “good enough” and I used my D750 most of the time anyways. Well, Nikon finally put the D500 on sale and I had to reassess my position.

I poured over the tons of written and video D500 reviews before making my decision. One review blew my mind stating I wouldn’t even be able to go back to my D750. Woah! Was there any truth to that??? Of course, there was another review that said the D750 was still superior in some situations (still subjects, landscapes, etc.).

Despite the many advantages of the D500 over the D7200, the one that really made me jealous was its 200 continuous shot capability. My D7200 and D750 are pathetic in comparison. There have been countless times where I filled the buffer or held back holding the shutter release causing missed opportunities.

In the end, it was clear that the D500 was head-and-shoulders a better camera than the D7200 and when the price finally dropped recently, I “clicked the Buy button”. However, I still had one unanswered question: would I miss the D7200’s 6000 x 4000 image size when cropping compared to the D500’s 5568 x 3712. That’s quite a difference.

Hands-on Accessment

The D500 is large and built like a tank. It makes my D7200 and D750 feel like toys. Even the shutter click seems more solid.

The 10 fps and what feels like a bottomless cache are unbelievable. Squeezing off a spray of continuous shots is as smooth as butter. I easily doubled the number of shots I used to take. It’s so fast, sometimes you just can’t help it.

The XQD card handles the bandwidth like a champ. I bought the Sony MRWE90/BC1 XQD/SD USB 3.0 Reader and it transfers files so quickly, I no longer have to take a long coffee break while I import photos into Lightroom.

I really discounted the benefits of the touch screen, but I actually found it to be one of the more compelling reasons to upgrade. If you chimp a lot, like me, being able to double-tap to zoom in and check focusing and then double-tap again to zoom out is so fast and easy. Swiping to scroll between photos or dragging to quickly shuttle though them is intuitive and fast. It probably doesn’t save a huge amount of time compared to using the buttons, but I think it’s a game-changer.

Autofocus is amazingly accurate and fast. It just acquires and reacts so much faster than what I was used to.

I bought the D500 kit with the oft-maligned Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4 lens, which has a 24-120mm equivalent fullframe field of view. I found it to be a decent all-around lens though I dislike the variable aperture. On my D750, I typically shoot with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 wide open and since I was usually at the long end on the 16-80mm, the bokeh just wasn’t what I’m used to.

D500+16-80mm f/2.8-4.0, 1/1600 at f/4, ISO 100, 80mm

The selection of DX lens is pretty limited compared to wide selection of FX lens, so I’m opting to use my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, which has a 36-105mm equivalent fullframe field of view. I rarely used the Holy Trinity’s middle child on my full frame, but it’s an excellent choice for the D500. Here’s a gallery of shots I took using it.

D500+24-70mm f/2.8, 1/640 at f/2.8, ISO 100, 70mm

So, do I miss the D7200/D750’s extra megapixels? Nope. I just shot a couple thousand photos and the difference never even crossed my mind–even when I was cropping heavily.

In the end, I have to honestly say that the one reviewer was right, I actually can’t go back to my D750 after using the D500. The touchscreen, continuous shooting, fast focusing, etc. just puts this camera in a league of its own. Hands down. No question.

I suppose if I was just shooting landscapes, I would opt for the D750. However, I can’t think of a time that I wasn’t also shooting wildlife. So, if I can only have one camera with me, it will be the D500. If I have the luxury of carrying two, then obviously I’ll use the right tool for the right job.

I have to say that the Snapbridge app is a bit of a letdown. You can only transfer JPEG images not RAW to your phone. Luckily you can convert RAW to JPEG in the camera. (RETOUCH MENU > NEF (RAW) processing. Select the image and then choose EXE.)

The D500 uses a lot more battery power than my D750. I never had to swap batteries on the D750, but I could see the need with the D500. Not a big deal, but something I thought I’d mention. I can also confirm that third-party batteries don’t work. The battery from my D750 does work, however.

Hopefully, I’ve touch on some areas to help other D500 fence sitters make the leap. Honestly, you will not regret it and will wonder why you even thought the D500 wasn’t all that.

I’m not giving up on fullframe just yet though. Nikon will undoubtedly update the D810 with the D500 features in 2017. It will be interesting how the D8XX will compare to the D500 since there are inherent advantages and disadvantages between APS-C and fullframe cameras, all other things being equal.

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